Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
first performance : 04 July 2014
last performance : 30 November 2016
Cuckoo’s Nest based on the novel by Ken Kesey
First performance : 04 July 2014
Last performance : 30 November 2016
“When you lose your laugh, you lose your footing” - Ken Kesey
Renowned for their vivacious and subversive versions of Shakespeare, Footsbarn have turned their attention to the masterpiece of counterculture One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Many will remember Jack Nicholson’s feisty performance in Milo Forman’s classic film, no less memorable is Footsbarn’s Cuckoo’s Nest ; a very different adaptation of this literary and big screen classic, combining the original book’s powerful narrative with the world-leading company’s uniquely comic slant and mastery of puppetry and masks.
“Artistic director, Paddy Hayter, describes the company’s latest show as ‘freely inspired by Ken Kesey’. I’d like to think the late author would have been delighted by the heady mix of humour, song, poetry, puppetry, physical theatre and mime employed by Footsbarn to bring his story to life on stage.” Western Morning News
Set in a psychiatric hospital, a group of patients live under the tyrannical rule of a despotic nurse. Exercising total control over both inmates and staff, Nurse Ratchet leads a brutal regime that exploits the weaknesses of the patients in her care. With power over time itself, she floods the ward with a “fog” that numbs the senses.
Into this purgatory steps a patient unlike any other.
McMurphy : a charismatic, life-loving rogue, who will challenge the Nurse’s hold with his insolence and his laughter. No-one knows why he has been committed – is he even insane?
The big Nurse is on her guard, the delicate balance she has spent years putting in place is under threat. In her mini kingdom she has absolute rule, surrounded by a court of fawning aides who take out their own frustrations on the patients.
The Indian chief knows it. Passing himself off as deaf and dumb, he sees and hears everything as he patiently sweeps the hospital corridors.
A battle of wits begins as McMurphy’s irrepressible life force sweeps through the ward carrying even the chief along with him towards a denouement worthy of any greek tragedy.
In an epoch where the very fibre of our individuality is being eroded by ever invasive technology and surveillance, it is good to revisit Ken Kesey’s story. A denunciation of all forms of dictatorship, an ode to freedom and friendship, to the right to be different, it is more poignant than ever today.